Biblical Rest

This week we are excited to have our long-time friend Joanna Eccles, from Words From the Honeycomb, write a guest post for the Editors’ Corner. Joanna offers her personal reflection on God’s sustenance in our daily lives in the midst of hectic schedules and modern expectations.


Last week, the flu gave me an unexpected gift. The nurse advised that sleep and fluids were the two most important things I could do to recover. Six days of sickness had reduced me to cough drops and herbal tea. 

While asking God to heal me, God reminded me that rest is part of His plan. I live in a big city where if you aren’t Type A, you may not survive. Everyone is expected to be busy. If you aren’t, you are labeled lazy. To try to keep up, I have been going and going like the energizer bunny. God, however, wanted me to slow down. I had already hurt my foot and been walking slower, but apparently, I needed to halt. 

When God created the world, He modeled rest for us. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (NKJV). God never needs to slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:3), but knows that we humans do. When we don’t slow down and rest, our bodies give out. 

Not only did God model rest when He created the world, He cared so much, that it is one of the ten commandments. Exodus 20:8 says “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (NKJV). 

God gave a lot of real estate to explaining how no one was to work at all on the Sabbath Day. I am amazed at how far our society has moved from Biblical rest, myself included. I remember a Sunday School teacher telling me it was fine to work on a Sunday, as long as I went to church. It made sense to me, so I went to work after church on Sundays thereafter for my retail job. My boss asked why I was willing to work on Sundays when I hadn’t before. I realize now that I lost part of my Christian witness by blending in with the world’s standards instead of obeying God’s commands. Now, I know some pastors who take a day of rest on a day other than Sunday, but that wasn’t my issue.   

God designed the Sabbath not to keep us from having enough time to work or to run errands, but because we frail humans grow weary. Not only do we need spiritual rest, but our bodies also need physical, mental, and emotional rest. I will write separate blogs on those topics later. Secular studies show that without rest we have the law of diminishing returns. More work does not equal more productivity after a certain point. 

For spiritual rest, God wants us to use the Sabbath as a time to forsake all things of the world that burden us, and embrace His love and purpose for us. This is hard because even as I sit on my couch resting, bills call to be sent, I’ve read three secular books, and done homework. But the time I’ve spent with my Bible, planning my “Experiencing God” Bible study, and praying, have been the sweetest. 

When I remember to take a Sabbath, I’m always blessed. I write in my prayer journal on Sunday afternoons and review the week. When I just go, go, go, it is easy to miss the patterns in what God is trying to reveal to me. When I slow down and take that time with the Lord to process, He can show me new things I’d miss otherwise. I have to look for the threads of truth that reveal God’s calling for me when woven together. Otherwise, the remain loose threads in my mind that become a tangled mess. I have to reflect on Whose I am instead of what society tells me to be to remember my purpose. 

Because biblical rest can be a struggle, I am praying for God’s grace to keep the Sabbath holy and spend time in spiritual renewal. Without God’s wisdom to process my previous week and receive insight for the next, I can easily stray to my own desires. Nothing replaces time in the Word. May we all sit at His feet each week and carve out the time to fill our spirits from the well that never runs dry.  

  • What threatens your ability to rest? 
  • What helps you maintain a Sabbath? 
  • What things God has shown you when you took a Sabbath? 
  • What will you do to obey God’s command for Biblical rest? 

Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program.  She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading. She currently lives in Virginia.

To read the rest of Joanna’s series on rest, follow her blog, or check out her podcast, visit www.wordsfromthehoneycomb.com.

Image by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2111628

2 Comments

  1. An important message, Joanna, to help us put our priorities in order. I think your question, “What threatens your ability to rest?” is the one most relevant to me. Definitely provoked thoughtful reflection. Thank you for sharing.

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